Can Iranians trust Western support?

Posted in Iran | 07-Nov-07 | Author: Judith Apter Klinghoffer| Source: History News Network

Limited number of Iranian dissidents be they minorities or students continue to be arrested and executed. Here is some of the latest:

Sheema Kalbasi reports:

"8 Arab-Iranians are to be executed. Among them is Faleh Abdullah al-Mansouri, a Dutch national and UNHCR-registered refugee was deported to Iran by the Syrian authorities in May 2006. Al-Mansouri is currently being tortured in Section 209, a notorious prison run by the Ministry of Intelligence. He was sentenced to death while in exile and is likely to be executed in Iran. Three more are sentenced to life. One of them is Hamzeh Savari who was arrested at the age of eighteen and two of his brothers were executed last year."

AFP reports:

Iranian authorities have arrested student leader Ali Azizi, who is a senior member of the main Islamic students' association, his mother told the ISNA news agency on Tuesday. . . .

Dozens of Iranian students held a new protest on Sunday calling for the release of three detained colleagues and shouting slogans against officials, ISNA reported.

The demonstration at the management faculty of Tehran University was the third since the three students from Amir Kabir University were given jail sentences of up to three years last month. . . .

The ISNA report said the latest protest was also aimed at the arrest of another three colleagues at a similar demonstration the previous week at Alameh Tabatabai University in the capital.

It is not too late to avoid war with Iran. With help Iranian dissidents can still do the job. That is the argument forwarded by Georgetown University professor Raymond Tanter in Le Figaro . Indeed, he pleads "Mister Sarkozy, convince Bush to help the Iranian opposition:

There are three major options for President Sarkozy to discuss with President Bush: diplomacy, military action, and an Iranian solution through empowering the Iranian people via their main democratic opposition. The more Europe stresses a diplomatic option that is failing, the more it would increase the prospect for Washington to select the military option, which Europe correctly wants to avoid. To avoid a nuclear armed Iran or war, both the United States and Europe have a common interest to emphasize the third solution, or the Iranian solution. The role that the Iranian opposition can play could be very significant in an Iranian solution.

A 2006 study by the Washington-based think tank, the Iran Policy Committee compared public attention paid by Tehran to various opposition groups. The Mujahadeen-e Khalq (PMOI) represents the most credible threat to the extremist regime in Tehran. The IPC found that the Iranian regime's official positions referred to the PMOI is 350 percent more than all other groups combined.

The EU and the US can realize their latent leverage over the Iranian regime by recognizing the independent Iranian opposition groups, in particular the Mujahadeen-e Khalq. The EU and the US can do so by lifting the terrorist designation of the PMOI. President Sarkozy has an opportunity to help President Bush move in that direction. Now is the time to reinforce the unilateral American sanctions against the Iranian regime with a common EU-American approach. Alexis de Tocqueville would be proud to see a President of France advancing the cause of French-American relations, reinforcing diplomacy, and preventing war.

He would, indeed. But may I suggest that to succeed Iranians willing to act MUST believe the US/EU are serious and that they will not be left holding the bag or more accurately buried in another mass grave.

Let me elaborate: these are the most read article in today's Tehran Times:

1. Iran will study any offer guaranteeing its nuclear rights: Hosseini
  • Hosseini shrugged off the foreign media propaganda about a possible U.S. attack against Iran, adding, “The region is not ready to tolerate a new crisis and the United States is not able to carry out such a thing.”
    2. Enemies can not withstand Iran’s power: Army commander
  • 3. Iran concerned over security situation in Afghanistan
  • 4. World Bank snubs inquiry, vows a big loan to Iran
  • The World Bank is defying requests from an influential congressman to stall nearly $900 million in loans to Iran.
  • 5. Iran opens two consulates in northern Iraq
  • 6. U.S. military in Iraq says to release 9 Iranians
  • Yes, of course, Tehran Times is trying to convince potential dissidents not to act. But, you must admit that the West provides them with some excellent ammunition!

    On November 17, a young Iranian French film maker hiding in the French embassy is supposed to go on trial for discovering a mass grave in the outskirts of Tehran:

    It all began in December 2006. Solouki arrived in Iran to film a documentary about the burial traditions of Iran's religious minority communities, such as Armenian Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians. . . .

    But while filming, Solouki says she stumbled on an area at the Khavaran Cemetery on Tehran's outskirts that caught her attention. She described it as "totally different" from the other parts she had filmed. Asked whether she was referring to a mass grave of people summarily executed in 1988, she said, "Yes."

    How many people were buried there has never been established, but estimates by Iranians and outsiders generally put the number above 2,800. Most of those killed were opposition leftists and mujahedin members who were taken from jail and summarily executed. Solouki says the authorities may believe that she intended to make a film critical of the mass executions, which took place in the summer and fall of 1988.

    On February 17, police stormed Solouki's residence in Tehran and arrested her, saying they had learned that she had filmed the mass graves. Solouki says her documentary at the time had yet to be filmed, and that none of the equipment seized from her gave any indication of the film's content. So she is being accused, she says, of harboring "presumed intentions" to produce antiestablishment propaganda.

    To sum up, the stakes for Iranian dissidents could not be higher. If the West is waiting for Iranians to provide the solution, the West must stop prevaricating and demonstrate that it means business and therefore can be trusted. At the moment, if I were a potential Iranian dissident, I would be far from convinced.